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2004 Toyota Tundra - The Master Plan

Posted in Features on February 1, 2010
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"It's kind of like an onion," Jon Lee says of his 2004 Toyota Tundra. "It doesn't jump out at you, but as you look closer, more and more details come out." Indeed. Jon's Tundra is plain white and sans graphics. Its track width isn't overly wide, and the ride height isn't that much taller than stock. Just the same, the onion analogy is dead on.

It all started with a master plan. Jon, of Riverside, California, is a long-time Toyota fan and a former Factory Toyota Master Tech. He wanted his prerunner to be capable, comfortable, and to fit his life as a backcountry explorer and as a co-driver of Pro Armor's Class One team. Those were the "big picture" parameters.

To meld the big picture parameters with the small metallic details, Jon turned to long-time friend and fabricator Mark Johnson. "We decided to keep the stock dash," informed Mark. "That dash was taken in and out of the truck about a hundred times while we were building the truck, but we finally got a dash that fits around the 'cage tubing. All the accessories work."

There's a Sol Tek quintet riding on top of the front bumper. Mark Johnson built an air scoop into the design. The scoop channels the air as well as the observer's eye.

After the first glance, the next layer you're likely to notice is the Ford-style I-beam front end. What's a Ford design doing on a truck owned by a die-hard Toyota guy? The master plan called for 20 inches of front wheel travel combined with a reasonable track width. Mark explained the dilemma: "To get 20 inches of front wheel travel with A-arms, we were either going to have to have a 105-inch track width or move the engine back several inches. Jon didn't like either of those options, so we went with I-beams." As built, the front end yields the desired 20 inches of travel and has a very reasonable 85-inch track width.

Check out the tire and wheel package. While 35-inch BFG Baja T/A's aren't exactly rare, the 5-on-205 buggy-style wheel bolt pattern is. Why use a buggy bolt pattern on a truck? The master plan, of course, called for it. This wheel-and-tire combo matches the one used on the Pro Armor Class One buggy. That way there's no need to carry separate spare tires for the buggy and for the Tundra.

The truck is not just limited to prerunning and chasing, though. "The first thing I did when the truck was done was to take my wife on a 600-mile trip through the Nevada desert. We saw old mining equipment, ghost towns-all that stuff."

One-piece hoods that take three people to remove them aren't all that practical for everyday use when you're flying solo. This front end tilts forward on Heim joint hinges. A stock 4.7 Toyota I-Force V-8 propels this truck, surrounded by 'cage tubing and Fox coilover and bypass shocks.

Unlike an onion, peeling back the layers of this truck won't have your eyes watering in pain. It'll have your mouth watering in amazement. This truck goes to show what can happen when you combine a talented fabricator with a master plan.

VEHICLE: 2004 Toyota Tundra
OWNER/HOMETOWN: Jon Lee/Riverside, California
ENGINE: 4.7L Toyota I-Force V-8
TRANSMISSION: Stock automatic
FRONT SUSPENSION: Custom I-beam conversion by Mark Johnson, kingpin I-beams, parallel links
in place of radius arms, Fox coilover and bypass shocks, 20 inches of travel.
REAR SUSPENSION: Custom three-link by Mark Johnson, Dirt Tech trailing arms, reversed
upper wishbone, Ford 9-inch axle with Cone Industries floater hubs,
40-spline axles, 4.88 gears, spool for 100-percent locked-up traction, Fox
coilover and bypass shocks, 23 inches of travel
TIRES: 35-inch BFG "Project" Baja T/A's
WHEELS: BTR beadlocks with 5-on-205mm pattern to match the Pro Armor Class One buggy
OTHER DETAILS: All California smog equipment present and functional, external battery
jumper, Filtered A/C, GPS navigation with laptop Google Earth capability

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